The Boston Celtics have their plan in place. Now it’s time to execute. For the last two seasons the Celtics have improved on wins but during the playoffs, they have not managed to make it out of the first round, but that is expected to change in 2017. The 2016 Free Agency period was what they were waiting for. They had the draft picks, the money, the winning tradition and the young nucleus, now all they needed was the right player or players to push them over the top.
The Celtics were involved in all kinds of crazy rumors centered on almost every NBA star from Blake Griffin, Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant. But as the whispers begin to quiet down, and the Draft came into play, the Celtics stood their ground, took the best available player and went after the pieces they felt was missing to get them over that hump.
With the addition of Center Al Horford, the Celtics now have one of the deepest, most versatile lineups in the NBA. They have the scoring PG with Isaiah Thomas, the defensive SG, Avery Bradley, the do-it-all SF, Jae Crowder, strong rebounder, Amir Johnson and now Horford. But will the loss of Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger set the team back or did they do enough to offset their absence?
The Celtics missed out on Durant, which in turn may have helped their growth more, Durant is all offense. The Celtics were in the market for a rebounder and inside scoring presence. The NBA has shifted into the small ball era, and that plays right into the hands of Horford. Horford comes from a winning program over in Atlanta, and while they were in the 50-win range the last two season the team came up short numerous times on the offensive side come playoff time. With the Celtics, he won’t have the same issues as they ranked 5th in 2015 in scoring.
How far the Celtics go will depend on how well they can defend? Last season they ranked 13th in points scored against, if the bigs such as Brown, Johnson, and Olynyk can keep the paint from being intruded the Celtics have a real chance of making it to the East Finals. The offense is there. The defense will be improved but what Danny Ainge was able to do this offseason was just the beginning.